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Courses on Indian Medicine

A three year integrated degree course in the Siddha, Ayurveda and Unani Systems of medicine (alternative medicines) and an one year Diploma Course in Siddha Medicine and Varma System for aspiring students who wish to learn these sciences mainly from direct sources i.e. Palm Leaf Manuscripts.

The main objective is to present these sciences in their authentic form to the world and disseminate the ancient knowledge and wisdom of these sciences globally for the benefit of mankind.


Siddha System - Founded and perfected by the Siddhas, the ancient seers, who were experts in Yoga, Medicine and Astrology as well. The use of herbs, metals, salts, corals and pearls for treating ailments is an unique feature of this system. Keynote of this system is the transformation of metals and minerals into potent therapeutic agents by using special chemical processes. The special features of the systems are Varmam, Muccukalayam, Nadi Vijnanam and Tukanam akin to Acupuncture, and Moxa treatments in China, pulse reading of Egypt and massage therapy of Japan. The Ninja system of Japan bears close resemblance to the Siddha herbal medicinal treatment.

Ayurveda System - An ancient pan - Indian system of medicine, this finds mention in the oldest repository of knowledge, RigVeda. Rishis or Saints in the days of yore are supposed to be the founders and promoters of this system. Out of the eight divisions of this system two of them, Caraka Samhita and Susrita Samhita deal with medicines and surgery as well. Knowledge of this system of medicine reached many parts of the world especially Greece and Rome in ancient times. This has close resemblance to the Siddha system of medicine, which emanated mainly from Tamil Nadu.

Unani System – A system popularized mainly by the traditional Islamic practitioners of medicine. Hippocrates and Galen are considered to be pioneers of this rare heritage. Later on Arabs took over and developed the system and added many forms of effective medicines from other contemporary medicine systems prevalent in different parts of the world. Although this system varies slightly from the Siddha and Ayurveda it has got close genetic relationship with the above two traditional Indian systems of medicine.

Varma System – A part of the Siddha System, it lays stress on the importance of various nerve points in the body which serve as conduits to the flow of vital energy throughout the body. The malfunctioning of these points are set right by application of pressure on them. Varma system has two fold application, as therapeutic system and as martial art, which has close links with the Kalaripayirru, popular in Kerala. This was propagated by Buddhist monks in several Asian countries including China, Burma and Japan.

All the above mentioned systems of medicine have several common principles such as the constituent elements of the body, humors which control several functions of the human body and treatment for ailments with the help of herbal medicines.

These native systems along with the Yoga are a significant component of the traditional sciences of our country and they underwent a period of deterioration and adversity owing to westernization. Thanks to the revival interest in the national heritage, these great treasures of India gained a new life and resurrection and they are now a part of the common human heritage in this age of globalization.

About the Institute of Asian Studies

The Institute of Asian Studies located at Chemmancherry, Chennai (adjacent to Info-highway) with its sylvan surroundings and serene atmosphere is engaged in research and academic activities for the past 25 years and is well acclaimed for its achievements in the study of the homogeneity in Asian cultures and sensibilities. A preliminary survey undertaken by this Institute informed us that there are more than four lakhs palm leaf manuscripts scattered in various parts of India (few in Europe and other Asian country) Only 25% of these manuscripts have been published and 75% still remain unpublished. Due to the detrimental influence of several factors like colonization, westernization, vandalism and indiscriminate destruction many manuscripts were lost to the world. The Institute of Asian Studies is engaged in the retrieval of these manuscripts and is recognized by the UNESCO for its untiring efforts to protect this fast vanishing national heritage of our country from further damage and destruction. It is significant to mention that the larger part of the corpus of palm leaf manuscripts are about traditional medicine.

This Institute is recognized by the University of Madras and the Central University of Pondicherry as a Research Centre. It is also recognized by the UGC under 12b and 2f of the UGC Act.

The Institute has published the research findings in several areas of study such as art, architecture, astrology, literary works and medicine, apart from organizing a number of national and international conferences in India, Mauritius, Malaysia and the United States of America.

A team of dedicated scholars and researchers of this center are still engaged in locating and undertaking research on ancient Palm leaf manuscripts thus providing a bridge to link the past with the present and possibly the future too.

Presently, the Institute, in collaboration with the UNESCO, is engaged in a programme entitled ‘Memory of the world’, the aim of which is to collect, collate, and present to the world, informations regarding our heritage and culture as drawn from the oldest and ancient records, namely Palm leaf manuscripts and also from our rich oral traditions. Preservation and conservation of the rich knowledge available in the fragile palm leaf manuscripts is one of the academic programmes very dear to the heart of this unique centre.

The UNESCO has appreciated Institute of Asian Studies for its systematic and dedicated researches in Palm leaf manuscripts and its Archive holdings of rare manuscripts.

The Institute of Asian Studies has conducted many workshops on manuscriptology in collaboration with the UNESCO apart from organizing seminars and workshops on different topics.


  • Hostel and boarding facilities
  • Library with a rich collection of rare books and manuscripts
  • A full-fledged department of manuscriptology with experts in the field
  • Well connected public transport system linking many parts of the city
  • Situated near the heart of the city

About the Degree Course

  • The course is compartmentalized into 3 yearly divisions of 6 topics each thus totaling to 18 topics.
  • Theory classes conducted by expert scholars, in the morning sessions and practical classes in the afternoon sessions.
  • Periodical visits to various institutions and therapy centres in order to give a direct exposure to manufacturing process of medicines and therapy.
  • Regular review tests to appraise the level of awareness of students.
  • The art of reading Palm leaf manuscripts is taught so that students can have a direct access to the original source of ancient medicine systems.
  • Periodical guest lecture programme by experts in India and abroad.
  • At the end of every year qualifying examinations will be conducted.

About Diploma Course

  • An integrated study of Siddha and Varma systems of medicine and therapy.
  • Regular morning and evening sessions for theory and practical classes.
  • Qualifying examinations at the end of the year.

Semester and Accreditation

The Degree and Diploma courses are designed and structured with stipulated number of hours for theory and practical studies. Credits in all subjects are awarded on par with international standards.

Basic Qualifications

  • Candidates should have completed school level Higher Secondary examinations.
  • Working knowledge in English is required

Commencement of the Courses :
The classes commence from Monday the 16th of January 2006.

Fee structure

Tuition Fees US $ 1200 Per annum
Hostel Fees US $ 900 Per annum
Special Fees (includes cost of course material, transport and medical facilities) US $ 200 Per annum
Library fees US $ 50 Per annum

Application and Prospectus can be had from the Institute of Asian Studies on payment of US $ 15 in case of foreign nationals and Rs.500/- for Indian nationals.

Payment to be made in the form of Money Order, Demand Draft or Banker’s Cheque drawn in favour of the Institute of Asian Studies, Chennai, India payable at Chennai.

For further information:

Contact: Dr. G. John Samuel
Institute of Asian Studies
Chemmancherry, Chennai, India.

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